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Pennsylvania Considers Bill to Streamline 5G Deployment

The next step for high-speed cellular connection is blindingly faster than the standard 4G LTE network.

(TNS) — Full-throated deployment of the next fastest wireless network is likely a few years away, but advocates for 5G connection speeds in the Keystone State want a framework ready now.

“We want to make sure that Pennsylvania is in a position to also send that same strong message to the business community, to consumers, that Pennsylvania is also going to be a place where 5G networks will be available and accessible,” said Ashley Henry Shook, spokeswoman for Pennsylvania Partnership for 5G.

The next step for high-speed cellular connection is blindingly faster than the standard 4G LTE network now.

As it stands, a two-hour movie takes about 90 minutes to completely download on a smartphone, Henry Shook explained.

On a 5G network, that same movie needs about four seconds, but “we’re talking about potentially more important applications than you being able to download the season finale of ‘Game of Thrones,’” she said.

Higher speeds mean, for example, that a food truck owner who uses a tablet to process payments can do so with greater speed and efficiency.

“They need to have that instantaneous connection,” she said.

Autonomous vehicles will need 5G networks if — or more likely, when — they go mainstream. The increasing frequency at which everyday objects connect to the Internet, called the “Internet of things,” is largely hinged on the higher frequency signals that allow them to work together more seamlessly.

While major cities are gearing up for a rollout, the likelihood of 5G arriving in Scranton or Wilkes-Barre anytime soon looks slim.

Major carriers have announced rollouts in a few select cities. Verizon is implementing 5G first in cities including Houston and Indianapolis.

AT&T late last month said it will introduce 5G this year to Indianapolis in addition to other cities including Atlanta, Dallas and Raleigh, N.C.

“We’ve got the standards, we’re ready and we’re already building out,” said Verizon spokesman David Weissman. “It’s not like the starting line is 2020. The starting line for us is really 2018.”

A bill now before Pennsylvania's house consumer affairs committee seeks to streamline the local permitting process for what could likely be hundreds of thousands of transmitters installed across the state.

The technology relies on small cell transmitters which would be installed on telephone poles and buildings. They need to be close together, about 500 feet apart, because 5G signals do not travel as far as the current wireless signals. Equipment includes a small transmitter, about the size of a Bankers Box, and sometimes a larger piece of equipment on the ground.

According to the bill, the ground-mounted equipment would be contained in a box no larger than 28 cubic feet, or the size of a typical refrigerator.

The Pennsylvania Partnership for 5G, which includes emergency responders, manufacturers, hoteliers and other businesses, wants to see House Bill 2564 become law, to establish a “uniform, transparent” regulatory framework that would make it easier for carriers to start building faster.

“The Internet of things and the economy that that’s going to spur is going to include 5G, so we want to make sure that Pennsylvania is ready,” Henry Shook said.

©2018 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.